Local government committed to transparency through CouncilMARK™

Dan Henderson

Dan Henderson
CouncilMARK™ Programme Manger
Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ)

CouncilMARK™ is a programme designed by the local government sector to show and grow the value of local government in New Zealand and embraces the principle of continuous improvement to deliver ratepayer value.

 The programme was launched following the New Zealand Local Government Survey completed by LGNZ in 2014. This found that local government is increasingly seen as important for New Zealand’s prosperity and well-being. But perceived areas of weakness were around providing good value for rates dollars and trust in councils to make good spending decisions.  Based on these findings, the programme’s methodology is based on what ratepayers expect from their council. It leads into an assessment of where the council should focus its attention and how to keep customer experience alive in all decision making and operations.

Assessment priorities 

CouncilMARK™ provides councils with an independent assessment. This covers four priority areas to highlight things that are going well, those requiring attention, and to chart a way forward:

  1. governance, leadership and strategy (“Leading locally”)
  2. transparency in financial decision-making (“Investing money well”) 
  3. service delivery and asset management (“Delivering what’s important”)
  4. engagement with the public and businesses (“Listening and responding”).

Participating councils are assessed by independent experts every three years in a process overseen by an Independent Assessment Board.

Assessment results

Councils receive an overall rating from AAA to C, grades for each of the four priority areas and the results are publicised and targeted at ratepayers.

Whilst the performance assessment provides the public with transparency on council performance based on its “rating”, this is not the end-game. Rather, the focus is on a long-term lift in council and sector outcomes, performance and reputation.

CouncilMARK™ encourages the sharing of good practice amongst the sector. It provides not only a journey of continuous improvement for councils to embark on, but also gives councils the opportunity to learn from each other and reinforces collegiality amongst the sector. 

Gaining traction

Thirty Councils have already participated in the programme, with many of those now gearing up for their second assessment. The programme continues to gain traction as many more councils have registered to be assessed in 2020. This highlights local government’s commitment to transparency, delivering value and continuous improvement in everything they do.

Feedback to date shows that CouncilMARK™ has been an increasingly powerful tool to engage not only with ratepayers, but with central government agencies, business and investors in the regions involved.  It provides a message for prospective partners that councils are committed to transparency and progression.  Is your council participating in CouncilMARK? Visit www.councilmark.co.nz or enquiry with your local council.


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